SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California moved one step closer to protecting the gray wolf under the California Endangered Species Act. On October 3rd the California Fish & Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to accept a listing petition filed by four conservation groups -- thus giving the gray wolf immediate "candidate" status, providing the species full state protections until a final decision is made.
This California native driven to extinction and absent from the state for nearly 90 years, gray wolves made international news when an adolescent male from Oregon, wolf OR-7, also known as "Journey," dispersed to California in late December 2011. OR-7's arrival riveted the world, as satellite signals kept the public apprised of his travels. Soon after, the listing petition to protect wolves under state law was filed.
Biologist and former attorney Amaroq Weiss, Northern California Representative for the California Wolf Center, spoke at the hearing on behalf of the four petitioners and her own organization. "We are extremely pleased the Commission accepted the petition, implicitly acknowledging the wolf as part of California's natural history and heritage," said Ms. Weiss. "Ever since Journey wandered into our state, the California Department of Fish and Game has actively connected with stakeholders, worked out management steps with federal authorities, and kept County Commissioners, private landowners and the general public informed. If the Commission lists the wolf, it will give the Department the broadest range of measures available by law to protect and recover this iconic native species."
The Commission received 7,000 letters from the public supporting the petition, and only 33 letters opposing it.
"Californians have spoken loud and clear that we welcome the return of wolves to our state," said Camilla Fox, Executive Director of Project Coyote and Wildlife Consultant to the Animal Welfare Institute who testified before the Commission on behalf of six organizations. "We commend the California Department of Fish and Game and the Commission for their proactive stance and we stand poised to work with them to promote wolf recovery, increase acceptance, and implement effective strategies that foster coexistence."
SOURCE Animal Welfare Institute